Home court is where you make it. For the Northeastern men’s basketball team, making any court feel like home has not slowed them one bit.
Since playing their last home game nearly 10 months ago, the 5-1 Huskies have had games in Boston (sort of home), Miami, Ohio and then Miami, Fla., where they faced then No. 15 Miami Hurricanes.
The unofficial host of the trip to South Florida was Quincy Ford, a St. Petersburg native. The 6-foot-8 redshirt senior took some heat from his teammates when they arrived in Miami.
“It was raining when we first got down there (on Wednesday),” Ford said. “Everybody kept saying ‘Hey, Q, what’s going on? What’s up with this rain?’ (Thanksgiving Day) it cleared up and they all were loving it – wearing shorts, T-shirts and soaking up the sun.”
Ford couldn’t deliver on perfect weather for entire trip but he delivered a dagger right in the heart of the Hurricanes.
With five seconds left and Northeastern trailing Miami by one, 77-76, Ford drained a jumper from the right elbow over Canes defender Davon Reed as time expired.
“At that time I guess I had the hot hand,” Ford said. “It was a great screen and then Zach (Stahl) giving me the ball. I came off the scene; didn’t push off. I was able to create just enough space.”
The Canes entered that game undefeated. They had beaten No. 16 Utah and No. 22 BYU in their previous two games.
“They were one of the hottest teams in the country at the time,” Ford said of Miami. “We just executed our game plan; didn’t get rattled. We knew what we were capable of.”
Ford believes that was the first time in his career that he knocked down a buzzer beater to win a game. That goes as far back as his days as a youngster in St. Pete.
“I’m one of 11 (children),” Ford said. “My brothers played all sports but we all liked basketball the most. All the kids in the neighborhood would good down to the Salvation Army. We played (basketball) outside there all the time.”
Northeastern has been a great fit for Ford. He chose it to find his own identity without being around his childhood influences.
“I actually wanted to get as far away from Florida as I could,” Ford. “I wanted to go out and be my own man. Coach (Bill) Coen was terrific the moment I got on campus. He is a genuine man who does what he says he’s going to do.”
Ford hasn’t gotten completely away from his family. His younger brother Sajon, a 6-11 freshman, followed him to Northeastern.
“I told him ‘Don’t come here just because I’m here,’” Ford said. “I told him he’s got to make the decision on his own.”
Northeastern’s win over the Hurricanes is hardly the first time Ford and the rest of the Husky squad have tasted victory in a big spot.
Last year the Huskies knocked off another team from the Sunshine State – Florida State – early in the year. As the No. 5 seed in the Colonial Athletic Association tournament, the Huskies ran their way to the championship. Ford’s 46 points in the three CAA tournament games, including 22 in the championship, earned him the Most Outstanding Player award of the tournament. In the second round of the NCAA Tournament Northeastern gave Notre Dame a huge scare. Trailing by as many as 11, the Huskies cut Notre Dame’s lead to two with :33 second left before bowing out 69-65.
“We came up a little short last year.” Ford said. “We didn’t advance as far as we wanted to. It’s motivation. Games (this year) against Miami and Michigan State (on Dec. 19) can only help us. The coaches have been extra hard on us this year. All of us want to go deeper into the (NCAA) tournament this year.”
Wednesday night the Huskies finally get their first home game at Matthews. They’ll be hosting Harvard. A reminder of last year’s accomplishments and unfinished business will be put on display. Both the 2015 CAA Tournament Champions and NCAA Tournament appearance banners will be raised to the rafters.
“It will be nice to be home,” Ford said.
Above: Northeastern’s Quincy Ford has made himself at home on the court no matter what state it is in. (Courtesy Northeastern Athletics)